Viewing homeless as lowest class disturbing

Dear editor,
A selection of opinions around the Valley on the proposed downtown homeless shelter site reveals something rather disturbing in the democratic, egalitarian society that we like to think Canada is: an idea that the homeless are somehow ‘other,’ different than us upstanding citizens.

Dear editor,

A selection of opinions around the Valley on the proposed downtown homeless shelter site reveals something rather disturbing in the democratic, egalitarian society that we like to think Canada is: an idea that the homeless are somehow ‘other,’ different than us upstanding citizens.

This is disturbing for it highlights the concept of ‘class,’ and the view that the homeless are the lowest class imaginable. Nothing could be further from the truth.

I have no doubt that  there is a criminal element within the homeless, just as there is within the wider society — think of those Enron executives indicted for fraud. (Alas, there is no shortage of examples from the business/executive class, but space permits only one.)

Drug abusers? Sure, and we are regularly regaled by news tidbits of famous, wealthy entertainers whose infamous escapades are attributed to various over-indulgences and addictions.

Mentally ill? Yes, and mental illness is no respecter of position in society. However much it pains some of you to acknowledge this, the homeless, aside from being homeless, are pretty much like you and I with all our foibles and human failings.

Ask those gainfully employed, polite, upstanding citizens of Japan who are still living in shelters if they chose their homelessness, and perhaps you will begin to take in that some of what happens in life is outside of our personal control.

It goes without saying that we should punish criminals, treat drug addiction and mental illness, and house the homeless. It should go without saying that amongst those homeless is someone’s sister, or uncle, or grandmother, or brother.

Those of you who cannot accept that we are all brothers or sisters under the skin should examine your fears, and what they mean to the future of our community, our country.

All citizens ‘belong’ in a democracy and a community, and I fear you project a kind of totalitarian world that most of us want no part in living in.

VivianLea Doubt,

Courtenay